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Interview: DCC Tyron Joyce on the Race Action Plan

Police Oracle speaks with DCC Tyron Joyce, the highest-ranking officer of Black heritage in England and Wales, on the Police Race Action Plan.

DCC Tyron Joyce is the programme director of the NPCC Race Action Plan which was launched last month for independent scrutiny before it is updated in December. 

The plan accepts that policing contains racism and aims at putting in place pragmatic measures to both improve proportionality within police ranks and ensure black people and communities are not over-policed or under-protected. 

In an interview with Police Oracle, DCC Tyron Joyce said: “Some people would be content for this to be an argument around two words [institutional racism], because it then avoids very difficult consideration of some of the underlying problems that we've got. I'm trying to push past that; this is simply about effective policing that improves confidence in Black communities.

“I think that there is a wide difference of opinion in policing, that's chief officers and PCCs, over whether institutional racism exists. I'm trying to develop a position that they can get behind.

“The Macpherson inquiry, shaped the way policing considers and delivers its service to communities, particularly black communities. 

“The issue for me is not whether institutional racism exists or not. It's how we can evidence that journey from being institutionally racist to anti-racist.”

The plan is based around four central workstreams; community engagement and relations, protection against victimisation, internal culture and inclusivity and use of powers. 

DCC Joyce’s role is to support the four Chief Constables who are the workstream leads - Gwent's CC Pam Kelly, Dyfed Powys DCC Clare Parmenter, BTP CC Lucy D'Orsi QPM and West Midlands ACC Matt Ward. 

He will also work with Chiefs across the country helping them to assess their position against the plan, understand their priority areas and support them in implementing changes.  

“Whilst we've got some national actions here, the vast majority of this is deliberately focused on local policing,” he said. 

“Some forces are at different levels of maturity in their relationship with black communities. So it's not for me to come along and tell them how to do it. But it is for me to challenge and support them so that we can demonstrate that evidence,” he told Police Oracle. 

Every chief constable has signed up to the plan and DCC Joyce has said that he has also addressed the APCC. 

“Police and Crime Commissioners hold Chief Constables to account for effective crime reduction and targeting of those that commit crime, and they've expressed broad support for anything that delivers that,” he explained. 

“If the vast majority of your community is white, I can understand your initial reluctance to spend an awful lot of time being in meetings to support communities of minority.

He added however that such a stance would be disappointing “because then we get that majority policing, not policing for everyone.” DCC Joyce is convinced that any improvements made will not just benefit the Black community. 

Police Oracle asked DCC Joyce, what changes this plan might mean for an everyday officer. He said all the plan seeks to do is challenge the way officers think about certain areas of police activity. 

One area of change, however, will be in interactions with the black community and shaping neighbourhood policing. He emphasised that it isn’t about more form filling but it is about more effective meetings. 

“It’s being quite laser-like in understanding the activity that we do.”

Some of the powers that are referenced within the plan include the use of stop and search, S.163 and the use of taser. The plan proposes a new national approach to help forces tackle racial disparity within those powers, as well as improving consistency in recording and strengthening governance and oversight of them. 

Former Commissioner Cressida Dick previously suggested higher rates of victimisation among black communities in areas such as knife crime could explain disproportionate stop and search figures. 

DCC Joyce told Police Oracle that while intelligence-led and focussed stop and search can be an effective tool, the plan proposes considering the community trauma of policing. 

“Instead of looking at stop and search and going, have you filled out your use of force form? Yes, you have, has someone checked it? Yes. It's ‘why did you use force at that time in that area?’ [...] Is that one of our hotspot areas for crime?

“The overwhelming feedback we have from the black community is if you treat us with dignity, if you explain things, I might still have a frustration of being stopped, but you know you what, you treated me with a level of professionalism. I can then accept that this is fair and reasonable.” 

Asked whether these conversations might make officer hesitant to use tactics available to them, he said: “What I would hope, is that each Chief Constable creates the environment they police in. 

“It's for them to explain to their staff, with my support, that this doesn't undermine effective policing at all. What it’s saying is be legitimate in what you're doing, explain what you're doing, and have a willingness to understand that the impact on some communities is negative.” 

DCC Joyce told Police Oracle that the College of Policing are conducting a review on the recruitment, retention and development of staff, particularly for minority communities. 

“I absolutely agree that there should be a meritocracy. But we need to recognise that some people find the environment of policing more challenging than others. 

“Now, we're very good at challenging, obvious bias, we now need to look at some of the unconscious bias and processes that we've got.”

He summarised: “This is just about delivery of a fairer service. This is about us showing our professionalism - not woke, not tick box.”

You can read DCC Joyce’s letter to Chiefs here. 

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